Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

Sleepless in Seattle
Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate, Prep Speaking level


In this lesson Ss will discuss the every increasing urbanization of the world, focusing on the advantages and disadvantages related to urban life and living in cities. A short film, comparing and contrasting New York City with Paris through side-by-side visuals, will guide the Ss to consider many of the similarities, in physical make-up and design, among cities around the world. A freer-speaking task, on defining and categorizing 'good' versus 'bad' cities, will lead Ss to the final productive activity, where Ss in groups will be asked to plan and design a perfect, utopian-like city based on a theme and a set of criteria.


Abc Newtopia Cutouts
Abc Newtopia

Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity for freer speaking practice on the topic of urban life, focusing on the advantages and disadvantages of city living.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity to practice their informal presentation skills during the conclusion of the final productive activity.


Warmer/Lead-in (11-13 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Show the WC a series of images of some of the most famous cities around the world. Elicit from the Ss which cities they are familiar with and any interesting facts/details/information they know concerning those metropolitans. Elicit from the Ss which cities they have visited and which cities they would like to visit (and why). Focus on some of the largest cities (from the images previously shown) and project their population statistics. Write on the WB MEGA-CITIES. Indicate that all of the cities on the WB are considered 'mega-cities.' Elicit from the WC how they would define a 'mega-city,' based on population statistics and the previous discussion. [T Answer: 10 million people or more] Project an image of Istanbul and elicit from the WC the population statistics for this city (if they know). Write on the WB. ISTANBUL-- Land Area: 1,539 km2 Population: 14,967,667 Population Density: 2,523 people/Km2

Useful Language (11-13 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language for coming productive tasks

Write on the WB URBANIZATION. Elicit from the WC the meaning of this word. [T Answer: the physical growth and development of a city into surrounding areas] Reference the metropolitans discussed in the Warmer section [Istanbul, Paris, NYC, Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul, Sao Paulo]. Elicit from the WC how these cities have 'urbanized' over time Write some of the Ss' answers on the WB. [T Answer: cutting down trees; transforming arable land into living spaces; covering vegetation with construction materials such as asphalt or concrete; construction of urban infracstructure (e.g. buildings, roads, bridges, underground subways, sewer systems, etc.)] Show some photos of Dubai (pre and post-urbanization; 1992 vs 2012). Elicit from the WC some of the differences they see in the comparison photos. Elicit a general response from the Ss. What do they know about Dubai? "Do you think this type of growth and development is good or bad?" Write on the WB METROPOLITAN VS COSMOPOLITAN. "When talking about cities and urban life, people will use both of these terms." Try to elicit from the WC the main difference between these two terms. [T Answer: 'metropolitan' is a large city with a large population; 'cosmopolitan' is also a large city, but with a culturally diverse population]

Productive Task: Comparing and Contrasting Cities (20-23 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Elicit from the WC a general description of Istanbul. "If you were to describe Istanbul to a foreigner who is unfamiliar with this city, how would you describe it? What adjectives, and descriptors, would you use?" Write on the WB, beneath the header ISTANBUL, some of the Ss' answers. Write on the WB, beside the ISTANBUL column, PARIS and NEW YORK CITY. Elicit from the WC what adjectives, and descriptors, they associate with these cities. Write the Ss' answers on the WB. Inform the Ss that they are going to watch a short film, comparing and contrasting Paris with New York City through side-by-side photos. Instruct the Ss' to look for some of the similarities and differences, between these two cities, that the video shows. 'OpenSkies loves New York and Paris' [2:05] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sudT7H6rHwA Following a viewing of the film, organize the Ss into pairs and have them discuss their observations. Following PW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Inform the groups that they are filmmakers and they are going to create a commercial for Turkish Airlines, similar to the one they just watched. This commercial is going to focus on comparing and contrasting New York City with Istanbul. Instruct the groups to discuss what images they would use to represent Istanbul in this commercial. Following a GW brainstorming discussion, bring the WC together for FB and a general response to each of the group's ideas.

Productive Task: Categorizing Cities (15-18 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive

Write on the WB GOOD CITY; GREAT CITY; and BAD CITY. Elicit from the WC which city they would categorize as 'good,' 'bad,' and 'great.' Elicit the rationale for their classification. Elicit from the WC under which category they would place Istanbul. Instruct the WC, in groups, to come up with 4 qualities/traits/characteristics that define 'bad' cities and 4 qualities/traits/characteristics that define 'great' cities. Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Write the Ss' answers on the WB. Elicit from the WC which city they think is the greatest and the worst city in the world, and why. Focus on Turkey as well (greatest and worst city).

Productive Task: Newtopia (45-50 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Divide the WC into different groups and inform the groups that they have been tasked with creating a nearly-perfect, utopian city. Each group will receive a different theme, with related criteria, that will guide and provide a structure for their urban plan. Instruct the Ss to: 1) "Discuss with your group and brainstorm on the layout and design of your Newtopia city. Think about what buildings, infrastructure, and natural features (i.e. rivers, forests, parks, etc.) you will include in your urban plan. Write down the best ideas from your group [on this HO]." 2) "Create a small-scale sketch of your urban plan." 3) "Draw your urban plan to full-scale." Distribute the associated HOs ('Newtopia' and 'Newtopia Counts'). Provide the groups with a significant amount of time for discussion, as well as the artistic production of their urban plan [around 30 minutes]. IF TIME: Once the majority of the groups have completed Step 3, have each group informally present to the WC their urban plan and explain the rationale behind their city's structural layout.

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